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Mailbag: Don't dare call Irvine or others in O.C. 'cities'

September 24, 2011

I think the majority of my fellow Orange Countians would be shocked to learn that there was recently, however briefly, a debate in print as to whether Orange County ought to unify into a single, consolidated city-county.

They would be surprised, at least, at the notion that anything so very grand ought to become of their quiet, stolid little community, and also because nearly none of them would ever care to imagine as much. And hence, I think, the brevity and obscurity of the debate: It did not have popular traction enough to sustain any attention with our laudably public-minded local media.

Really, though, the assertion that ought to have provoked shock was not that Orange County's 34 polities might unite into a single city, but that Orange County might come to possess anything deserving of that term at all. Surely not one of its squabbling, petty suburbs really comes close; however, the state of California, with its duly issued charters of incorporation, might beg to differ.

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No, the word "city" deserves far better than the likes of Irvine, Santa Ana or Anaheim among its rolls. A city is a thing of majesty. It calls upon such storied names as Athens, Rome, Carthage and Alexandria; Baghdad and Constantinople; London and Paris and New York; Tokyo and Shanghai.

Save their sizes and their histories. Stow away even their power and their prestige. These are places of consequence because they are, by their very nature, places of cultural commerce. They encourage community with such a structural clarity and focus that the places themselves cannot help but take on a character of great substance all their own. There are surely lesser cities that stand in good stead with this tradition, but don't offend it with such names as Fullerton or Huntington Beach.

And this is exactly as we would have it here, isn't it? We can do without having our own great traditions of music, theater or literature. The music venue and the author's pub are offensive to our PTAs, after all. Street performers are little more than beggars with guitars, and can we not see a production of "Wicked" or "Disney on Ice" whenever we find ourselves craving a bit of culture? And have we not already given the world Disneyland, the "Real Housewives" franchise, and Richard Nixon? What more could it possibly want of us?

And so we voted against the Centerline, nearly a decade ago, and cling to our sprawl and our gridlock, our shopping centers, parks and parking lots. And would we ever want to have it any other way? Imagine: Orange County as some sort of cultural and commercial hub of global importance. The very notion!

We are quite content in our little bedroom communities, if you please. Entomb us in our living rooms, exactly as we have lived. And do tell that noisome future to cease in knocking so persistently at out door. Please leave us to our quiet. This is the legacy we demand for our children.

Joshua Moore

Irvine

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